Thursday 18 January 2018

Editorial: Irish politics needs Labour

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore

LIKE the rest of society the political world has, to borrow a phrase from Juno and the Paycock, been in a "state o' chassis" since the implosion of the Celtic Tiger.

Such has been the extent of that 'chassis' that Labour has been in real danger of following the unfortunate precedents set by the now defunct Progressive Democrats and the apparently defunct Green Party. Some cynics may claim Labour's post-electoral struggle to continue to trade as a viable political party is the political equivalent of the infamous 'small earthquake in Chile, not many dead' story. However, Labour's survival is no minor issue, for it is not entirely accidental that two of the most progressive governments in the history of the State, the Fianna Fail Labour Coalition of 1992 and its Rainbow successors, had a significant Labour input.

It might be somewhat excessive to echo the claim by James Connolly that "the cause of Labour is the cause of Ireland". But the health of Irish politics is generally enhanced by a strong Labour. The party has often been dismissed to the status of a mere prop for Fine Gael or Fianna Fail to secure office. However, Labour has at its best provided some degree of idealism and independent thought in a political system where the ethic of the unthinking herd generally prevails. This, unfortunately, has often meant that within the Irish political story book, Labour's advocacy of transparency and political reform has received a similar reward to that secured by poor Boxer in Animal Farm.

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